USA Today has complied a list of who, based on their assessment, are the 100 most powerful people in baseball. Unlike a lot of lists like these, it’s well-reasoned and not played for laughs. Each entry has a good thumbnail of what role the person in question plays in baseball and why they appear where they do on the list. It’s hard to argue with too much of it, actually.
You will not be surprised that Rob Manfred is at the top of the list. You may be surprised that Sean Forman, the founder and owner of Baseball-Reference.com makes the list at #49. I guess I’m a bit surprised but I’m happy for him. That’s the best site on the Internet. David Appleman, head honcho of FanGraphs is at 62. Viva stat geeks.
The top player: Bryce Harper, at number 11, whose marketability and impending free agency give him a more prominent position than some better players. Derek Jeter isn’t even in baseball at the moment and he makes number 22 on the list. Same with David Ortiz at 32. Shohei Otani comes in at 47 and he’s on the NPB disabled list. Most of the active MLB’ers on the list are in the second 50.
There are a ton of executives, from the league, from clubs, and from media companies, obviously. The top pure-media guy, however, is Ken Rosenthal at number 51. The next time you get too caught up worrying about what this or that baseball writer or talking head says, remember, they’re not as powerful as a couple of dudes who run stats websites and several retired guys.
The thing I find most notable about the list: Tony Clark, the Executive Director of the MLB Players Association, is only at number seven. He’s behind his counterpart in Manfred, Dan Halem, MLB’s top labor negotiator, Tony Petitti, the man in charge of pace-of-play initiatives, Cardinals CEO Bill DeWitt, agent Scott Boras and Bob Bowman, the man who runs MLBAM.
Put differently: there are six people who are directly involved with decisions regarding the rules and conditions under which players work and who manage and benefit from income streams which players are most responsible for creating that, in at least USA Today’s judgment, are more powerful than the union rep. That’s . . . not ideal. And it’s telling.